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Full text of "The Medical missionary society in China"

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THE 



MEDICAL MISSIONARY SOCIETY 

IN CHINA. 



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THE 



MEDICAL 

MISSIONARY SOCIETY IN CHINA. 



The great object of this Society, is to aid the Mis- 
sionary of the Gospel, and the philanthropist, in the 
execution of their good works, by opening avenues for 
the introduction of those sciences and that religion, to 
which we owe our own greatness, by which we are 
enabled to act a useful part in this life, and which fit 
us for the enjoyment of a better life hereafter; and to 
effect these purposes, it is necessary that a favourable 
impression with regard to ourselves be first made on 
the minds of the Chinese people. Much experience 
of the habits and manners of this peculiar people, from 
a long residence in China, has convinced me, that the 
practice of the healing art among them promises this 
desirable influence ; and as the Chinese evince the 
greatest anxiety for the benefits which this science 
affords, I cannot help urging the consideration of the 
subject upon the missionary societies, and likewise 
upon the evangelicaj communities of both England 



4 

and America. It is true, that our Saviour's great and 
last mandate is " to preach the Gospel," still, on giving 
this command, he did not abrogate his former, "to 
heal the sick." I would therefore with all deference 
submit, that it is no deviation from his own plan, to 
render assistance in relieving those evils which flesh 
is heir to, especially if the attempts be made from a 
conviction, that such benevolent deeds cannot fail to 
be a means, which must ultimately tend to the propa- 
gation of the truths of His gospel. Nothing has been 
attempted in the medical line with the Chinese that 
has not met with success ; the immediate effects have 
been good, and when moral and religious instruction 
shall be united with the healing art, who can say 
where the influence of such a union shall end ? The 
minds of this people must be gradually prepared for 
the reception of religious and moral principles, and the 
surest way to accomplish this, will be by showing 
them the effects of these principles on our own con- 
duct. They are not capable of understanding abstract 
truths, but facts and actions speak for themselves. 
The Chinese, from their manner of life, are the subjects 
of innumerable diseases, the sight of which is daily 
intruded upon those who visit the " celestial empire ;" 
and the subsistence of their lower classes is derived 
altogether from manual labour, therefore the inability 
to perform that labour is the most serious evil that can 
befall them. The practice of medicine by the Chinese 
physicians, is blended with childish superstitions; and 
surgical aid cannot be procured even by the opulent, 



for the practice of surgery in any useful form is un- 
known among them. The influence then of those 
who restore them to the exercise of their powers is 
easily accounted for ; and it is evident that this is a sort 
of influence that is likely to be widely extended, and it 
will now be seen that the course proposed by the me- 
dical missionary society in China, hj its usefulness, 
recommends itself immediately to their attention. 
There is no doubt that inquiries will be made by the 
Chinese as to the motives of such benevolent acts ; 
when those who are engaged in this good cause will 
explain that the real concern is not for the body which 
perisheth, but for that which is immortal ! It appears 
to me that the number of medical practitioners might 
be increased to almost any extent, and all find employ- 
ment about Canton ; but other parts of the empire, I 
foretell, will ere long be visited in the same way, and 
doubtless with the same success that has attended the 
efforts of those, who have practised around the walls 
of that city. "The harvest is plenteous, but the la- 
bourers are few." With regard to the qualifications 
of the medical gentlemen to be employed, the nature 
of the work requires, first, that they be thoroughly 
acquainted with their profession, and possess energy 
and activity; next, that they be religious; and lastly, 
that they be men who consider their own interest as 
entirely subordinate, when compared with that of the 
great cause in which they engage. I say religious, 
because, in the course of medical practice, opportuni- 
ties will occur, when a man piously disposed might 



inculcate religious precepts with great effect, although 
he may not unite in his own person, the two profes- 
sions of divinity and medicine ; a union which I 
think objectionable, as the all-absorbing duties of the 
active physician would leave him but a scanty portion 
of time to devote to any regular form of religious 
instruction : moreover the profession of medicine is 
replete with responsibility, and requires unremitting 
attention, and though individuals may be found who, 
like my friend Dr. Parker, are competent to the duties 
of both divinity and medicine, I do say from my know- 
ledge of mankind, that such exceptions are rare. 

" Rara avis in terris." 

However, upon the Rev. Dr. Parker too much praise 
cannot be bestowed, for besides being a pious minister 
of the Gospel he is a very able physician, and does not 
run a risk of injuring the cause by pretending to a 
knowledge and skill in medicine which he does not 
possess ; and my remarks, in objection to a union of 
the two professions, do not apply to men who, like him, 
are competent to perform the duties of both ; but to those 
■missionaries of the Gospd who, possessing an imperfect 
knowledge of the healing art, attempt to make it a 
means of introducing themselves to the confidence of 
the he then, as 1 y ?uch men incalculable mischief may 
be done, both to their fellow-creatures and to the cause 
of religion itself. I am so thoroughly convinced that, 
by following up the plan laid down by the " Medical 



I 7 

Missionary Society in China," results will be produced 
far beyond any thing which has as yet appeared ; that 
it will be one of those causes of which the effects will 
be felt even before we have time to trace its progress, 
that I ardently wish to see some pious, medical gentle- 
men go out and join Dr. Parker in the fulfilment of so 
praiseworthy an undertaking. The ' ' Medical Mission- 
ary Society in China" will not appoint medical persons, 
but will rely on those missionary societies in England 
and America, which shall enter into its plans, to make 
the appointments ; as it will thus render such missionary 
societies responsible for the selection of the individuals ; 
and the " Medical Missionary Society in China" will in 
return be answerable to them, by receiving and point- 
ing out the course to be pursued by those medical 
gentlemen who are sent out under their auspices. Be- 
sides, the " Medical Missionary Society in China" fore- 
sees that missionary societies will emulate each other 
in the choice of good and proper men, as on their 
selection its destinies are suspended. Should my 
observations turn the attention of the missionary socie- 
ties and the evangelical communities of England and 
America towards forwarding the plan laid down by the 
" Medical Missionary Society in China," I trust that the 
day is fast approaching when the gospel of that glorious 
Being whose mercies are not confined to either quarter 
of the globe, will shine in full splendour over eastern 
lands. 

I now beg to recommend to those benevolent and 
pious persons who possess sentiments in common with 



the members of the " Medical Missionary Society in 
China," the perusal of Dr. Parker's reports, published 
quarterly in the Chinese Repository since February, 
1836. The " Medical Missionary Society in China" 
has a house at Macao for the reception and care of 
such medical gentlemen, as may be sent out to its 
protection. 

THOMAS R. COLLEDGE, 

Senior Surgeon H. B. M. Service, 
President of the 
Medical Missionary Society, China. 

Philadelphia, December 8th, 1838. 






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